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UK banks are facing a long haul to re-build trustworthiness in a credible and sustainable way but a start has at least been made, according to the Banking Standards Board’s first annual review.

The independent body was set up last year, with Dame Colette Bowe, formerly of Ofcom, being appointed by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to chair a board which includes the former General Secretary of the TUC, Sir Brendan Barber, Metro Bank CEO Craig Donaldson and António Simões, Chief Executive of HSBC Bank.

Bowe comments: “Like all businesses, firms in the banking sector have responsibilities that go beyond compliance. Regulation, although vital for well-functioning markets simply isn’t the answer to every question. And if we want to see a change in culture and standards of behaviour right across the sector, individual institutions, owners, investors and the people leading and managing them, all need to step up to the plate.”

She adds: “The BSB’s detailed individual reports drew on a variety of different information sources, from boards and CEOs themselves, to face-to-face employee interviews and focus groups, as well as wider third party sources including trade unions and investors.

“Our discussions with Chairmen and boards following completion of the individual reports have been constructive, open and honest. But the purpose of the assessment exercise is not just to deliver a report, but to help bank and building society boards be as effective as they can be when serving their customers. I look forward to the BSB’s ongoing dialogue with these firms over the coming year, and to building on this work with more firms from across the sector.”

Six cross-cutting themes have been identified: Purpose, values and culture; Culture and conduct; Leadership and key person risk; Incentives and rewards; Challenge and speaking up; Provision, take-up and effectiveness of staff training and support.

Bowe says: “All of these cross cutting themes are big issues – some of the essential building blocks of corporate culture – and can only be tackled through coherent and concerted effort. Every firm’s starting point is different but the collective challenge for the sector is very large.”

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